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BIKE CRASH HELMET REDUCTION

SMITH VS FINCH QUEENS BENCH DIVISION (22 JANUARY 2009)

In 2005, the claimant was riding his bicycle in a quiet village when he was in collision with a motorcycle. As a result of the accident, the claimant suffered a severe head injury. He was not wearing a helmet.

The Trial Judge decided that the accident was caused by the negligence of the motorcyclist in riding too fast and in failing to avoid the claimant and his bicycle and that he could and should have done so. He then went on to consider whether a pedal cyclist who does not wear a helmet should have his damages reduced if the wearing of an approved helmet would have prevented or made his injuries less severe. He answered in the affirmative; Froom and others vs Butcher (1976), where a claimants damages following a road traffic accident were reduced by 25% for failing to wear a seatbelt that would have prevented injury, was applied.

In the Judges view, it did not matter that there was no legal compulsion for cyclists to wear helmets as the most important factor was the failure to wear a helmet merely exposes a cyclist to the risk of greater injury. He did not go on to consider what the appropriate reduction would have been as he was not persuaded the wearing of an approved helmet would have prevented or made less severe the head injury suffered by the claimant.

22 January 2009